Michael Danby gets groovy on Marriage Equality

May 29, 2013

So, Michael Danby has finally seen the light.  He’s now 100% committed to supporting marriage equality, or the right for non-heterosexual couples to get married.

His office sent out this email yesterday, May 28 2013, confirming his revised position on his support for marriage equality.

My support for any future marriage equality bill

Dear …,

As I have mentioned in my previous correspondence, I have always supported the principle of marriage equality and I am extremely disappointed that Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party continue to oppose marriage equality and not allow their members a conscience vote on this issue in Parliament.

While, I abstained from the previous vote due to this refusal of the conservative parties to allow a genuine free vote on the issue, for reasons outlined in the podcast, the link of which is below, I will support any future marriage equality bill.

I hope that Mr Abbott changes his mind on this issue and allows members of his party a free conscience vote as their continual united opposition to marriage equality will ensure that any such Bill is not successful.

The podcast is of my interview with Macca (David McCarthy) on his Saturday Magazine Program on Joy FM on 25 May, announcing my support for any future Bills regarding same sex marriage.

Regards,

Michael Danby
Federal Member for Melbourne Ports
Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts

And so there you have it.  Michael Danby is now fully committed to removing the discrimination in the Marriage Act that John Howard’s Government installed in 2004 that prevents same-sex couples and intersex people from getting legally married in Australia under Civil Law.

Let’s just hope Michael Danby isn’t at the opera when the next vote comes up.


Miriam Margolyes – Australia’s newest Citizen and outspoken marriage equality advocate

January 26, 2013

I woke up on Australia Day to my partner Gregory telling me that Miriam Margolyes has become an Australian Citizen and that she had been photographed with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  Nice one.

It’s not everyday that an outspoken (Jewish) lesbian marriage equality advocate is photographed with Julia Gillard, both sharing a moment of pure glee.

Miriam Margolyes is not one to mince her words, and has made it evidently clear that she believes Gillard needs to change her position to support marriage equality.

(“One-woman show with great expectations“; SMH Feb 1 2012)

Miriam Margolyes wants a word with Julia Gillard – although a word is not all the forthright British actor might deliver if she encounters the Prime Minister.

”I love Julia Gillard, she’s great fun, but I believe she is not in favour of gay marriage,” Margolyes says. ”She should be smacked.”

(“A woman not afraid to say her piece“; The Age Feb 25, 2012)

FORTHRIGHT British actress Miriam Margolyes – a ”socialist, lesbian, Jew” – is on a roll about gay marriage and her crisp English diction reaches a crescendo.

”People just get their knickers in a twist about this. Everybody should just grow up. If somebody you don’t know wants to get married, what the hell does it have to do with you?” she says.

”I don’t want to ape a straight relationship,” says Margolyes, who has been with her Australian partner for more than 40 years. ”The only reason I’d get married is to get some presents. I want some Le Creuset sets. Not that I cook.’

(“Barry Humphries joins Q&A“; Q&A May 28, 2012)

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: What about President Obama, who has come out in favour of gay marriage?

TONY JONES: Dragged into the open by his vice president?

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Is that how it was?

TONY JONES: Pretty much.

BARRY HUMPHRIES: Afraid so.

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Well, I wonder will it cost him in the election in America and would it here, for example? No, I don’t think it would here because Australians are sensible. In England, where they’re frightfully stupid, over 70% are against gay marriage in England. I, as it happens, since nobody’s asked, I don’t want to get married to my partner of 43 years but some people do and, you know, let them. It’s another question, of course. I realise that.

So how about it, Julia?  Go have a chat with Miriam and sort out her right to get married (and mine too), here in Australia, under Australian law, in case she ever decides she wants to tie the knot.  It won’t cost you the election and it might even help you win it, because love always wins over hate.


The ECAJ should look at it’s policy on Social Inclusion

January 16, 2013

I’ve written recently on how the Executive Council of Australian Jewry believes anti-discrimination legislation should not protect people on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.  I’ve also written on how the ECAJ believe our society should be “inclusive” (that’s the ECAJ’s version of “inclusive”, which means everyone except gays and lesbians).

In The Age today the topic of the Anti-Discrimination Bill in relation to discrimination against lesbians and gays was raised, and the following reported:

Jews ”don’t have a position on this”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said.

Perhaps the ECAJ has forgotten the extreme discrimination that the Jewish people have suffered in recent and distant times?  Maybe the words “Six Million” might ring a bell?  Or “Pogroms”?  Or “Spanish Inquisition”?  Or “Pharaoh” and “Egypt”?  In the history of the Jewish people there has been no shortage of persecution.  Yet the ECAJ claim they don’t have a position on discrimination against lesbians and gays.

Hop on over to their web site and have a look at their Platform, in particular Section 1.1 on Social Inclusion:

1.1 NOTES that it is the vision of the ECAJ to create and support a community in which all Australians, including all Jewish Australians:
(a) feel valued and their cultural differences are respected;
(b) have a fair opportunity to meet their material and other needs; and
(c) are equally empowered as citizens to participate in and contribute to all facets of life in the wider community;

Given that the ECAJ want a society in which all Australians feel valued, have a fair opportunity, and are equally empowered to participate in and contribute to all facets of life, they actually do “have a position on this”.

The correct and only response from the ECAJ should be “We condemn all forms of discrimination, especially that perpetrated against persecuted minorities, and support an Australia where all people are treated equally.”

It’s not asking too much, is it?


Clarifying the authority of the ECAJ

January 11, 2013

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Australia
legcon.sen@aph.gov.au

January 11 2013

Dear Committee Secretary,

I wish to clarify some potentially misleading information presented in submission #242 by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.

The ECAJ describes itself as “the officially elected representative organisation of the Australian Jewish Community and speaks on its behalf.”

If you review the ECAJ web-site (www.ecaj.org.au) you will see on the front page it lists its constituents and affiliates.  These are the organisations and communities it represents.  To help you understand this better, let me give you an example.

One of the constituents of the ECAJ is the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.  The JCCV represents approximately 60 member organisations in the Victorian Jewish community.  There are many organisations it does not represent, including a number of schools, synagogues and other organisations.  The JCCV claims to be the voice of the Victorian Jewish community, yet it has no authority to be the speak on behalf of the organisations it does not actually represent.  Similarly, the ECAJ has no authority to claim to represent those organisations, communities or citizens who are not affiliated with its constituents.

It is also important to understand that the ECAJ does not represent in any way the best interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the Jewish community.  The ECAJ, and its constituents have no formal GLBTI representation, and have never engaged in any formal consultation with the GLBTI community to understand and cater for the specific needs of this highly disadvantaged, marginalised and victimised minority section of its community.

In fact it is clear from the ECAJ submission to your committee that they believe GLBTI people should not have any protection under anti-discrimination legislation.  The ECAJ also give tacit approval that same-sex couples should be denied the right to equality under the Marriage Act, which is further evidence that the ECAJ do not represent the interests of GLBTI people.

To this end you will have a better understanding that not only do the ECAJ not represent the entire Australian Jewish community, but they do not and cannot speak on its behalf.  Further, I can state with absolute authority that the ECAJ do not speak on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the Jewish community.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that it is imperative that anti-discrimination legislation afford full protection to people on the grounds of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex characteristics and sexual orientation.

I will be glad to assist in clarifying any of this information.

Sincerely,

Michael Barnett
Convenor
Aleph Melbourne
www.aleph.org.au
0417-595-541


ECAJ calls for inclusive society (that excludes gays getting married)

January 7, 2013

ECAJ logoDespite my ongoing calls for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to decry the efforts of the Orthodox Rabbinate’s opposition to civil legislative reform to allow same-sex couples to marry in Australia, they remain steadfastly silent.  I have put a case forward that it is in their best interests to support marriage equality in Australia, especially given they already have issued a statement for respect of GLBT people.

The Executive Director of the ECAJ, Peter Wertheim expresses an interest in the harmony of society in  Australia, as reported in the Australian Jewish News :

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said there was nothing Dr Mohamed could learn from Gaza and its Hamas rulers that could possibly have any legitimate application in Australia.

“His visit and his comments undermine Australia’s efforts to build a peaceful, inclusive and democratic multicultural society,” he said.

I put it to Peter Wertheim that whilst the ECAJ remains silent on marriage equality it shows that the organisation is not genuine about its desire for a wholly inclusive society in Australia, and demonstrates that the ECAJ’s agenda is pro-Zionist and not pro-humanity.

The credibility of the ECAJ, being a body that represents the interests of Australians, is perilously fraught at present.  Yet a simple statement claiming that it believes all Australians should have equal rights before the law could easily rectify that.

Is that too much of an ask Peter?


A Dedication to the Absence of Humility

January 6, 2013

I dedicate this post to those people who believe they are more entitled to certain rights than other people.

I dedicate this post to those people who use religion to uphold bigotry and state that their god believes some people are sinful because of the way they live their lives.

I dedicate this post to those people who support those people who uphold bigotry and state that their god believes some people are sinful because of the way they live their lives.

I dedicate this post to those people who remain silent when those people who uphold bigotry state that their god believes some people are sinful because of the way they live their lives.

I dedicate this post to those people who know better and yet they remain tight-lipped.

I dedicate this post to those people who are so ideologically manipulated and brain-washed that there is no hope for them ever.

I dedicate this post to those people who believe fags should be killed.

I dedicate this post to leaders of states who don’t believe their citizens are all entitled to the same rights.

I dedicate this post to people who believe they are more worthy of certain rights just because.

I dedicate this post to hatred, intolerance, homophobia, transphobia, religious brain-washing, spinelessness and political cunning.

I dedicate this post to those people who enjoy beating a person to within inches of death and then tying them to a fence to see out the final hours of their life.

I dedicate this post to everyone who believes some people are less deserving of equal rights than other people.

~~~

~~~

MACKLEMORE LYRICS

“Same Love”
(with Ryan Lewis)
(feat. Mary Lambert)

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay
‘Cause I could draw, and my uncle was, and I kept my room straight
I told my mom tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k shrimp”
Trippin’, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “yea I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing god, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And god loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in is then poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ‘round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god we believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind


Bnei Akiva’s Machane Keshet (Camp Rainbow) advertised outside Leibler Yavneh College

December 22, 2012

I was driving along Balaclava Road after lunch today and a billboard outside Leibler Yavneh College caught my attention, no doubt a testament to its effectiveness.

20121222 Bnei Akiva Machane Keshet billboard outside Leibler-YavnehIn particular I was drawn to the stylised rainbow, the word “keshet” (Hebrew for rainbow), the message underneath (“Show your true colours”) and that it was affixed to the fence of Yavneh College.

I parked my car so I could get a closer look at the billboard and I saw it was for the summer youth camp run by Bnei Akiva.

My initial reaction to seeing the billboard was that it was for the Keshet Australia program but I quickly realised that this wasn’t the case.  The reason I thought it might have been for Keshet Australia is because they are “developing an array of engaging education campaigns and initiatives for, and in partnership with, Jewish communal organisations; especially schools, youth movements, aged care-homes and synagogues”.

Optimistically, it would be ideal if Keshet Australia was associated with Bnei Akiva Australia.  The kids who participate in those programs definitely need the education about sexual orientation and gender identity that Keshet Australia intends to empower leaders in Jewish organisations with.

A collaboration between Bnei Akiva, Keshet Australia and Yavneh College would help safeguard the welfare of the most important assets in the Jewish community, the children.  Intolerance of homosexuality contributes to poor mental health outcomes, self-harm and suicide.  Ignoring the reality of this situation compounds the problem, only to the community’s detriment.

I actually had a quick look to see if there was any material online that Bnei Akiva had made available to help understand sexual orientation or homosexuality.  I only found one page on Bnei Akiva UK’s web-site discussing “controversial topics” that had a rough scan of some questions about homosexuality from a religious perspective.  Sadly, there were no answers, just questions.

I urge the educators in the Jewish community to work with organisations like Keshet Australia and Safe Schools Coalition Victoria and invest in the health and happiness of community that really does show its true colours.


Michael Danby MP, a two-faced abstainer

December 16, 2012

Ah, Michael Danby.  Only interested in grubbing for votes from the Jewish community, but fuck the rest of his electorate.  Peasant.

From a friend this week (Dec 13):

I called Michael Danby’s office this morning and was told that he “abstained” from the marriage equality vote on 19 September.  I think the woman I spoke to then realised that she’d said too much and put me through to a professional PR person, who told me to put all my questions in writing, blah, blah, blah.

So at least we have an answer; he chose to “abstain”.  I didn’t even know you could abstain in the parliamentary system.  Maybe abstaining means just putting up your hand to go to the bathroom …

Most ironic of all is that he chose to “abstain” on marriage equality and then created headlines yesterday for his vicious attack against Bob Carr for abstaining on the Palestine vote.

Correct, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Danby attacking Carr for having abstained:

Mr Danby described Senator Carr’s actions over the UN vote last month – and Australia’s ultimate decision to abstain -  as ‘‘unforgivable behaviour for any minister in any cabinet government.’’

I wish Danby would just say that he doesn’t give a rats arse about gays, that they can go to hell and that his political career, fueled by the Jewish vote, is the only thing important to his overgrown ego.

Danby, I’d tell you to kiss my hairy arse, but that’s a pleasure saved for my partner.


Ethical Eggs | The Stirrer

October 21, 2012

Ethical Eggs is the second piece I’ve had published on The Stirrer.


Ethical Eggs

Recently it came to my attention, by way of a Sydney-based Jewish gay mailing list, that an observant Orthodox Jewish couple (married and nominally heterosexual) were unable to conceive conventionally due to a medical condition.  However they were advised that conception could be achieved with the assistance of a donated egg.

To accommodate their strict religious requirements the egg donor ideally must be Jewish and must be, and remain, unmarried.  The writer of the post felt that if the egg donor were to be a lesbian, this would rule out the likelihood that she would ever marry (a man), thereby meeting the aforementioned prerequisite that the donor be now, and remain, unmarried.

By the time I had digested the gist of this somewhat unusual request I was starting to feel a little uneasy.  Not that someone should donate an egg.  In itself that was fine.  What bothered me initially is that it was considered acceptable to use a lesbian woman as an egg donor simply because she would effectively be guaranteed never to get married (under Jewish law).

In 2012 in Australia this is a correct assumption.  Lesbian couples cannot currently marry in Australia, and if they get married overseas their marriages are not legally recognised here.  In any case, Orthodox Judaism does not currently recognise same-sex marriages anywhere in the world, so even if they could get married under a civil jurisdiction, they would not be considered married under Orthodox Jewish law.

What this doesn’t take into account is that at some time in the future lesbian couples may be able to get civilly married in Australia.  Given this possibility, it raises questions as to whether said lesbian egg donor, unmarried at the time of donation, would still be considered unmarried in the eyes of the Jewish law if she were to tie the knot with a same-sex partner under civil law.  Whilst this is not a concern of mine, it may need to be a consideration for the prospective parents.

What is of greater concern to me is the welfare of any child born from the gift of an egg to this couple by an unmarried lesbian donor.  Specifically, I would be concerned that this child might be raised in a manner that did not take into account that it may grow up to be same-sex attracted.  Given that Orthodox Jewish couples of strong religious observance do not typically consider homosexuality acceptable, the likelihood of such an inflexible upbringing is high.

Should the child turn out to be other than heterosexual, and assuming it was nonetheless expected to conform to heterosexual norms, there is an increased chance of negative mental health outcomes, self-harm and even suicide.  Current Australian scientific research1 shows that these scenarios are prevalent in religious environments intolerant of homosexuality.

The ethical dilemma for the egg donor, as I see it, is whether she should donate an egg to a couple, with the full knowledge that any child born of her egg and raised by this couple will potentially suffer due to the religious attitudes of the parents, if it turns out to be same-sex attracted.

How would the egg donor feel if this child experienced a life of misery because it was forced to conform to heterosexual norms?  Would that be an acceptable outcome to the donor?

Ultimately this decision is one for the egg donor to make.  Being party to the creation of life is not a responsibility to be taken lightly, and hopefully the donor would take this situation into account, along with any other considerations she may have.  Needless to say, all parties would want the best outcome for the child.  I just hope all parties understand the consequences of their actions and attitudes.

1. Refer Suicide Prevention Australia – GLBT Position Statement (PDF here)


FRIEND Film: Joseph’s Story

October 4, 2012
Please Watch & Share
Joseph’s Story of almost committing suicide & overcoming being bullied.
I would be forever grateful if you would share this amazing story of a young teen on your Facebook Page. I met Joseph in Tennessee while interviewing LGBT teens across America. His story changed my life and inspired me to really honor him in my writing.  Our goal is to get the video viral by October 11 for Coming Out Day.
Once Again Thank You,
Elliot London
FRIEND Film is about a gay & transgendered teenager dealing with coming out in 2012. A world of social networking and social change.

www.indiegogo.com/friendproject
www.facebook.com/myfriend
www.facebook.com/elliotdlondon


Director Elliot London Wants You as Friend to LGBT Youth through

National Awareness Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(LOS ANGELES – OCT. 2, 2012) – It’s no doubt difficult being a teenager in today’s society, especially a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered teen.

But through it all, having strong allies and friends does tend to make it easier.

Once a victim of childhood bullying and homophobia himself, film director Elliot London (The Wedding Dance) has embarked today on an empowering and eye-opening campaign across America, hoping to bring awareness to the plight of LGBT youth bullying, and the importance of support systems.

The “Friend Project” is a new campaign showcasing two separate, yet thematically connected digital vignettes from two teenagers in different parts of rural America sharing their raw and tear-jerking stories of growing up gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered in the conservative heartland of America.

Starting today, each week for the next two weeks, London will share a new video with the public, with the ultimate goal of bringing these stories and others to life through an upcoming feature film entitled Friend.

In a completely hands-on and hybrid approach, both teenagers are also acting as creative liaisons on the project, having helped integrate their own life stories into the script.

“It’s a film that will bring the narrative and the reality into one,” says London. “We will be integrating a point of view from real life teenage experiences, rather than from a room of writers in Hollywood.”

He continues, “It’s so important that we continue to support and foster true independent American cinema. Unlike many other influential nations, we do not have the luxury of much government funding, grants and support they do for indie cinema, especially in a niche market.”

In the first film,  viewers will get to meet Joseph, a timid, yet courageous 16-year-old boy from Tennessee who once thought suicide was the only way out from the pain and torment that bullying carved into his impressionable young soul.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of Friend is encouraged to visit the project’s IndieGoGo campaign page at indiegogo.com/friendproject All donations are tax-deductible, as this film is being supported through Fractured Atlas, a registered 501(c)3.

 

Contact Information
phone: 310.691.4616
losangeleselliot@yahoo.com


Queer Jewish Crisis | The Stirrer

September 27, 2012

Check out “Queer Jewish Crisis“, my first contribution on The Stirrer.


Queer Jewish Crisis

by: Michael Barnett

September 25, 2012 – Family, Religion – Tagged: , , 3 comments

I recently attended a talk by Keshet Australia aimed at getting its message out to the Jewish community.  The local Keshet, based on its USA counterpart, advertises itself as “a Jewish GLBTIGQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender, Intersex and Gender Queer) movement to better educate Australian Schools on how to educate a Jewish child on GLBTIGQ.”

At this talk a flyer was distributed, the opening paragraphs of which described a crisis of Queer[1] departure from the Jewish community and how Keshet is placed to address it.  As a seasoned activist this crisis was news to me, with my priorities centring on reduction of isolation, self-harm and suicide.

Legitimate crises in the local Jewish community include the state of aged care and the entrenched and chronic covering up of child sex-abuse.

Other community crises surround alcohol abuse, domestic violence, poverty, private school fees and intermarriage.  The cost of keeping kosher is even of concern to some.

Another almost ignored real crisis is the rate of self-harm and suicide in the Melbourne Jewish community.  Rough figures were published in 2011 claiming approximately two people a month attempt suicide or self-harm.  Taken together with the alarming rate of suicide amongst same-sex attracted people and this issue should be given elevated priority.

My experience of coming out as gay in the Jewish community was one of compassion at best and indifference at worst.  I was not strongly religiously observant, but I continued to attend an Orthodox synagogue for some years and my friends and family accepted me and continued to include me and connect with me as they had always done.  In fact, for a number of years after coming out my Jewish “identity” actually strengthened.

Individual experiences will no doubt differ to mine, depending on the attitudes of the person’s family, friends and religious community.

I have made a number of observations about what happens when people self-identify as other than heterosexual.  If their religious context is accepting, they will open up to their peers and live a full life merging their sexuality and their cultural context.  If their religious context is intolerant they will more than likely find a context to express their sexuality at a safe distance from their cultural community, keeping both alive but separate.  I have not yet experienced many who give up their entire religious community simply to allow unhindered sexual self-expression.

And so I challenge this perceived “crisis”.  I feel it is a phenomenon that is alarmist, unfounded and exaggerated.

If a person departs their Jewish identity due to peer intolerance when they “come out”, it may potentially induce a situational crisis for their friends and family due to a sense of confusion, bewilderment, loss and even grief.  But keeping a sense of perspective, these situations are not ubiquitous or universal.

There may be legitimate grounds for concern over people leaving the Jewish community but the reasons for this are potentially varied and complex.  One mid-20’s community-minded gay woman recently told me that her university and career choices took her away from much of the Jewish surrounds that she was immersed in during her secondary school years.

Disengagement from the Jewish community may occur for ideological reasons, lack of need for a connection, or prioritising a connection with a different community.  All reasons are legitimate.

People leaving the Jewish community is not a crisis or even a problem if they make these choices voluntarily, free from duress.

If a situation arises that drives many away from a community, the crisis should be identified as the underlying reason why people are leaving rather than the fact that people are leaving.  We invariably seek the path of least conflict.

As to Keshet’s claim on their flyer “We need to keep Jews, Jewish”, I disagree.  We need to keep people in the Jewish community happy and alive.


 [1] GLBTIQ / same-sex attracted / gender diverse, etc

 


Breaking: Christian lobby says gays should wear burkas

September 6, 2012

(Kudos to BG for bringing this story to my attention)

Christian lobby calls for gays in plain packaging

September 6, 2012 – 8:50PM

Paul Oisborne And Lisa Martian

AAP

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) says that homosexuals should cover themselves up in plain clothing to discourage young people from taking up same-sex behaviour.

ACL spokesman, Mr Jim Wallace, has defended his comments from earlier this week in which he said homosexuality was more dangerous than smoking, adding that “plain packaging should now apply to same-sex couples just as it does to cigarettes”.

“Many homosexuals wear alluring, bright and attractive clothes which some impressionable young people might be attracted to,” Mr Wallace said.

“Under the circumstances, I think a sensible health approach is for gays to cover themselves up in plain ways so as not to be a temptation.”

When asked if gays should simply wear burkas, Mr Wallace said he did not approve of full Islamic dress for homosexuals, unless they were in fact Muslim, but which he admitted would be unlikely.

“Look, all I’m saying is that cigarettes kill people and so do homosexuals. But I am not homophobic.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday withdrew from speaking at the ACL conference in Canberra on October 5 and 6, citing “offensive” comments about homosexuality made by Jim Wallace.

Ms Gillard had originally said that attending the conference did not mean that she endorsed all of the views being presented.

“I speak to many organisations around Australia and sometimes I support their views and sometimes I don’t, but I can never know which views I support and which I don’t until I am informed by Mr Joe de Bruyn,” she said.

Rainbow Labor, the GLBT support group within the ALP, immediately rushed to issue a media release congratulating Ms Gillard on withdrawing from the conference organised by the Religious Right.

When asked why the group did not condemn Ms Gillard for giving legitimacy to the ACL and its conference by agreeing to attend in the first place, Rainbow Labor spokesperson, Mr Con Distraction, said “oh look, there’s an aeroplane!”


Equal Love Rally, Melbourne, August 11 2012

August 17, 2012

Eight years after the Howard Liberal government introduced the delightfully discriminating Marriage Amendment Act (2004), we’re still rallying for marriage equality.

A fruity message highlighted the discrimination:

We cant-elope

We cant-elope

Ernie & Bert were planning their wedding in New York (and Colin was planning his wedding to a handsome police officer):

While Ernie & Bert want to marry in New York, Colin has his eyes on a handsome policeman

While Ernie & Bert want to marry in New York, Colin has his eyes on a handsome policeman

Straights were fighting hate:

Straights against hate

Straights against hate

There were thousands of people there:

Huge crowds!

Huge crowds!

Two gorgeous guys got illegally married to each other:

Even gay zombies want to get married

Happy illegally married

Enjoy all the excitement of the day – photos on Picasa and Facebook.  View all my Equal Love Rally posts here.  Please contact me if you want to use any of my photos from this event.


Julia Gillard aligns herself with Christians who believe “gays reproduce by molesting kids”

August 14, 2012

Today it came to my attention that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is appearing as keynote speaker at the 2012 Australian Christian Lobby National Conference.  It also came to my attention that an aligned radical Australian Christian organisation is claiming that “gays reproduce by molesting kids”.

It’s inexcusable for the leader of the nation to remotely associate herself with any organisation that espouses such hateful views

Julia, its time to leave the house.


John Searle, Keshet, Maccabi Victoria, Daniel Kowalski and Olympic Dreams

August 3, 2012
Daniel Kowalski, Mikey & Gregory at Goldman Sachs; August 2 2012

Daniel Kowalski, Mikey & Gregory at Goldman Sachs; August 2 2012

Last night I attended the offices of Goldman Sachs in Melbourne for a diversity event hosted by their Gays, Lesbians and Mates (GLaM) network.  Guest speaker was Olympic medalist Daniel Kowalski.

Daniel described his journey from being a somewhat chubby kid in South Australia, a place not known for its swimming heroes, to becoming a silver and bronze medallist in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games in swimming.

Part of Daniel’s story revolved around how he found he lacked a degree of confidence and that something was holding him back from reaching his full potential.  He said that at the time he wasn’t fully certain what it was.  As the years went by he realised he was hiding his sexuality and this was having an impact on him.

Daniel Kowalski said he felt that if he had been comfortable with his sexuality he would have been able to stand up proud on the starting block, with a sense of confidence, and put in a far better effort.  He believes it may have helped him win gold instead of silver or bronze.

This leads me to a Keshet Australia panel discussion this Sunday evening, August 5 here in Melbourne.  The evening is entitled “The need for educating our Jewish community on GLBTI issues” and is moderated by John Searle.  John is the immediate past president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and currently the chairman (and only member) of board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. From the advertising it appears he will be appearing on the night in a private capacity.

What’s especially exciting about Keshet bringing on board John Searle is that through his strong connections in the Jewish community and his involvement in the VEOHRC it places him in a unique position of being able to access and influence a significant number of organisations and people in the Jewish community about the need for a greater understanding of why discrimination against homosexuality is harmful.

On May 17 2012 the VEOHRC issued a media release in which it stated:

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission unequivocally stands against homophobia in all its forms and today reaffirmed its support for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

As the agency responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in Victoria, the Commission sees the harmful effects that discrimination and inequality have on people and the hurt and damage caused by prejudice, vilification and damaging stereotypes.

Almost a year and a half earlier, in January 2011, the VEOHRC issued another media release on the Fair Go, Sport! initiative in which it said:

At its best, sport is a great way of keeping fit, healthy and socially connected. However, recent research highlights that sport can also be very unhealthy for gay, lesbian, bi‐sexual, transgender, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ) people, many of whom have experienced discrimination and abuse in sports club environments.

Come Out To Play (2010), a survey of 307 lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender Victorians, showed that 42 per cent of respondents had experienced verbal abuse because of their sexuality while playing sport.

It’s evident that the VEOHRC is taking discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in sport seriously and is building bridges in the sporting community to help raise awareness of the harms of this discrimination.

The logical progression here, and perhaps the pink elephant on the sporting field, is to get the Jewish community’s sporting association, Maccabi Victoria, involved.  That’s where John Searle fits in perfectly, because as a person who is passionate about human rights, equal opportunities, removing discrimination and “educating our Jewish community on GLBTI issues”, all he needs to do is reach out to the team at Maccabi and show them how the VEOHRC, through Fair Go, Sport!, is benefiting the Victorian sporting community.

Maccabi Victoria itself is well placed to take adopt this sort of education, as it lists amongst its values: tolerance, healthy & positive lifestyles, strong community connections, achievement in sport and participation by all.  My earlier message about Daniel Kowalski exemplifies how a sporting community supportive of diverse sexual orientations would have assisted him in all of the same areas that Maccabi takes seriously.

I urge John Searle, together with Keshet Australia, to reach out to Maccabi Victoria and help them fly their rainbow colours for a stronger and healthier sporting community.  Who knows, it may just help someone achieve their Olympic dreams.


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